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Jennifer Matt on the getting real stage of web-to-print

Published on November 5, 2012

Cary Sherburne speaks with WhatTheyThink contributor Jennifer Matt about what she calls the "getting real stage" of web-to-print.

Cary Sherburne: Hi, I’m Cary Sherburne, Senior Editor at WhatTheyThink; and I’m here with Jennifer Matt, who’s another famous WhatTheyThink contributor, writer and blogger and our resident expert web-to-print. Glad to have you here.

Jennifer Matt: Thank you, Cary.

Cary Sherburne: So, you know if I kind of think about web-to-print, you can go back to the ‘90’s and all the .com boom/bust stuff and maybe that was phase one of web-to-print, and then we got into a little more mature stage, but I think we’re really entering a third phase of web-to-print. Maybe you could either agree or disagree and comment on that.

Jennifer Matt: Well, let’s call the third phase, the getting real stage.

Cary Sherburne: Okay.

Jennifer Matt: Right? Where people are actually asking for are results not just buying software and leaving it on the shelf. And I think that if you could look at a theme for the third phase, it’s more about the web and less about print.

Cary Sherburne: Okay. And what do you mean by that?

Jennifer Matt: I mean that web-to-print; a lot of the companies in the early days came out of people thinking about how is it going to be good for printers. And now we have to focus on the customer, not the printer. I mean, not to say that having the job easily dropped into your production system isn’t important, but if nobody uses your software in the frontend, it doesn’t matter how automated it is. And so everybody’s got to think more about what’s the user interface and what’s the user experience for the customer and how are you going to drive customers to that. And I’m not talking just about B to C sites where you have to worry about search engine optimization and stuff. I’m talking about B to B sites, how are you going to get those customers to want to order from you online? ‘Cause people do this tremendous amount of effort to sell programs and sell the technology in there and then they forget that you actually have to work to get people to use it. And the software better be brilliantly easy because it’s competing with email.

Cary Sherburne: Well, yeah, and that – and people are so used to, you know, the Amazon experience, if you will, you know, you need to make it comparable.

Jennifer Matt: And self-service, right?

Cary Sherburne: Yep, self-service, yeah.

Jennifer Matt: We think of web-to-print, we try and use all these fancy terms and the reality, its self-service order entry. And only a certain segment of print belongs there, right?

Cary Sherburne: Yeah.

Jennifer Matt: Not the most complicated thing, you’re not going to do a three million piece cross-marketing campaign.

Cary Sherburne: Or your Annual Report.

Jennifer Matt: Or your Annual Report or, you know, you’re not going to do those things in a self-service environment. So, and there’s been a lot of companies have shown us the way that you can do a lot more than you think in a self-service environment.

Cary Sherburne: That’s great. And you have a new book out, right?

Jennifer Matt: I do.

Cary Sherburne: It’s called surprisingly, Web2 Print.

Jennifer Matt: Don’t want to make any mysteries here.

Cary Sherburne: that’s right. And so people can get access to this through EDSF.org, which is the proceeds go…

Jennifer Matt: Everything goes to EDSF, which is a scholarship fund for the graphic arts community, which I’m a board member of.

Cary Sherburne: Great. And I’m, you know, this will give them – this will give the readers kind of a good primer on this phase of Web-to-print and what they should be thinking about.

Jennifer Matt: I think so. I think the biggest mistake I would like to correct in the industry is printers buying the wrong product. And I don’t mean like the product was just bad, it was just wrong for them.

Cary Sherburne: Wrong for them.

Jennifer Matt: Right? So they didn’t look at it. I just see two questions you got to ask: who are you targeting on the web? I know it sounds really simple and stupid, but which customers are you going after ‘cause that will determine which technology you pick. And then the second question is, what are you trying to sell?

Cary Sherburne: Yeah.

Jennifer Matt: Right? If you’re trying to sell business documents there’s a couple vendors that are really good at that, if you’re trying to sell photo products, very different vendors. What if you’re trying to sell business documents and photo products? There’s a smaller list of vendors that do that, but so many people go out and shop and they just get demos from everybody. But they don’t, they don’t look and go, these are the four products I want to sell online and I want to show – I want you to show me how you would support those four products. So they’re an oversize printer and they go out and buy a system that doesn’t know how to calculate price based on area.

Cary Sherburne: Right, right, yeah…

Jennifer Matt: I mean, that just has happened.

Cary Sherburne: Yeah, so – so some very, very simple questions that they should be thinking about, but they aren’t often thinking about. So that’s – it’s a good.

Jennifer Matt: Yep, gets the terminology correct in that book and just tell you, goes through, here are the questions you should ask to avoid the most common mistakes when you purchase it.

Cary Sherburne: Great. And congratulations for, well writing the book, ‘cause that’s not easy, but also for supporting EDSF in that way. It’s a terrific organization. Thanks.

Jennifer Matt: Thank you.

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